Thomas Knapp-Note to Media: Please Stop Calling Rand Paul a Libertarian

Rand_Paul_in_Louisville_by_Gage_Skidmore

By Thomas Knapp

“They thought all along that they could call me a libertarian and hang that label around my neck like an albatross,” Rand Paul said in 2010 during his Republican primary campaign for US Senate, “but I’m not a libertarian.”

Paul prevailed, beating GOP establishment favorite Trey Grayson in the Republican primary and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway in the general election. Now he’s preparing a 2016 presidential campaign and everyone, Paul included, seems to want to forget that disclaimer.

But it was true then and it’s true now. Rand Paul is no libertarian.

What is he? Among other things, the poster child for adopting a strict “no backsies” rule in American presidential politics.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com puts his finger on the problem with Paul: “For the life of me, I can’t figure out what he really believes — where he really stands, especially when it comes to foreign policy.”

Paul wants to avoid war with Iran. No, wait, he’s for wrecking any chance of avoiding war with Iran. No, wait, he just wants to “negotiate from a position of strength” with Iran — by signing a letter telling the Iranians that the US can’t be trusted to stick to its agreements.

Paul supports “respectful” relations with Russia, because unlike other politicians he understands that the Cold War is over. No, wait, maybe it isn’t over after all. We need to “isolate” Russia and “punish” Vladimir Putin.

Paul supports eliminating foreign aid, including aid to Israel (because strings attached to that aid tie Benjamin Netanyahu’s hands). No, wait, let’s just freeze foreign aid at current levels. No, wait, let’s increase foreign aid to Israel.

Paul opposes US airstrikes on Islamic State forces. No, wait, he supports airstrikes on Islamic State forces.

Paul opposes abortion, except when he doesn’t. Paul opposes same-sex marriage, except maybe not. Paul opposes marijuana legalization, except when he thinks it might be OK.

Libertarians argue constantly over what it means to be a libertarian. I bet I’ve heard a hundred definitions. All of those definitions describe consistent defenders of liberty. None of them describes someone who always says whatever he thinks the crowd he’s talking to wants to hear.

Some of Paul’s defenders claim he’s a “stealth libertarian,” pretending to be a conservative — but that once he’s in White House, he’ll reveal his true principles. They’re selling a pig in a poke. Buyer beware!

What is Rand Paul? A politician. A chameleon. A pander bear. The 2016 edition of Mitt Romney (you may remember how that turned out for Republicans).

Rand Paul is many things, but one thing he’s consistently not is a libertarian. Please stop calling him that.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

The article can be found here.

56 thoughts on “Thomas Knapp-Note to Media: Please Stop Calling Rand Paul a Libertarian

  1. Trent Hill

    Yes, because Tom Knapp is the arbiter and decider of who is or is not libertarian. Sorry, I don’t want him making those determinations for the media or anyone else.

  2. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    I’m trying not to dislike Rand as much as many people do, but we can expect the media to continue to confuse the public as to what a libertarian is. I’m also curious as to how hostile his campaign will be to libertarians. Will they try to win us over to their side with threats, lies and ridicule like they did in 2014? I think they’ll most likely be worse.

    Besides, the GOP doesn’t seem to learn from their mistakes.

  3. langa

    Totally agree with this. The fact that even Raimondo (who has repeatedly bent over backwards to put the most charitable spin on Rand’s frequent “deviations”) has now abandoned him really speaks volumes.

  4. Thomas L. Knapp

    Trent,

    I’m not the arbiter or decider of who is or is not a libertarian. Nor have I claimed to be.

    But I think it’s a pretty good bet that when a conservative politician plainly and publicly states “I’m not a libertarian,” he’s not a libertarian.

  5. Scott Lieberman

    Rand Paul is tied for 4th place as the most libertarian US Senator in 2013 on this chart: http://rlc.org/sites/default/files/LibertyIndex2013.pdf

    I am not saying that that chart is the definitive word on which US Senators are libertarian and which are not.

    But I do know that Libertarians who waste their time bashing Rand Paul could have instead used that time to get themselves or their fellow Libertarians elected to City Councils and Water Boards.

    “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can,
    And the wisdom to know the difference.”

    (if you are an atheist, just delete the first word of that prayer)

  6. Thomas L. Knapp

    Scott,

    Libertarians’ time is theirs to waste any way they damn well please — and it’s not necessarily one thing or the other. There are all kinds of things libertarians can do with their time, and some of them can do more than one thing. Ain’t life grand?

  7. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    “But I do know that Libertarians who waste their time bashing Rand Paul could have instead used that time to get themselves or their fellow Libertarians elected to City Councils and Water Boards.”

    Or I suppose we could sue another state’s well running Libertarian Party until they’re bullied so much they leave the national party, leaving the party with no ballot access.

  8. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Another interesting dynamic for this upcoming presidential campaign will be division among us by those who prefer a Republican as candidate, with that party’s shameful record, instead of looking for and nurturing candidates for the Libertarian Party.

  9. Trent Hill

    “But I think it’s a pretty good bet that when a conservative politician plainly and publicly states “I’m not a libertarian,” he’s not a libertarian.”

    Oh yes, just as if an authoritarian with socialist tendencies says “I’m libertarian”, we can trust his word for it? Don’t be daft. You know it isn’t that simple. It’s about labels and polling and how certain terms poll. Rand has spoken in favor of reducing or eliminating penalties for “non-violent offenders” (In fact, he said that in his announcement today), has taken aim at mandatory minimum sentencing, has encouraged Republicans to eschew hardline interventionism in favor of a softer and more peaceful foreign policy. Etc.

    I’m not going to try to argue the “libertarian” label with you. But the idea that you get to identify who is or is not libertarian is hilarious.

  10. Scott Lieberman

    Since I am on the Libertarian National Committee I will support whomever our 2016 Convention Delegates Nominate for President and Vice-President.

    That being said, the same Liberty Index I referenced above has the following scores for other major potential Pres. nominees from the US Senate:

    Ted Cruz 95
    Lindsey Graham 72
    Rand Paul 95
    Marco Rubio 93

    Elizabeth Warren 5
    Bernie Sanders 6

    Why would any Libertarian want to waste time bashing Rand Paul, when he ties with Cruz for the most libertarian voting record in 2013, when the other choices listed above are clearly much, much worse.

    Obviously one can spend their time in whatever way they so choose. However, when you join an organization you usually want it to succeed, and you want that to occur in a time effective and cost effective manner. Focusing huge amounts of money, time, and emotional energy on Presidential campaigns has gotten the Libertarian Party exactly nowhere. OTOH, we have elected perhaps a thousand or so Libertarians to local offices. Many of them can point to actual legislative victories that they have achieved that would not have been possible had they not been elected to public office.

  11. Trent Hill

    “But I do know that Libertarians who waste their time bashing Rand Paul could have instead used that time to get themselves or their fellow Libertarians elected to City Councils and Water Boards.”

    Well said. It’s funny, these small-kingdom libertarians (I’m chairman of a party with 14 active members!) want to be the gate-keepers of what being libertarian means, but they spend all their time attacking what they see as pretenders to the libertarian throne (Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Gary Johnson, etc) rather than attacking the more dangerous ideas (Hillary, Rubio, etc). Keep your small-kingdoms.

  12. Thomas L. Knapp

    Trent,

    “the idea that you get to identify who is or is not libertarian is hilarious.”

    Only Tuesday, and already a strong candidate for dumbest goddamn thing I’ve read this week.

    EVERYONE gets to identify who is or is not libertarian, just like we all get to identify people on every other topic.

    It just so happens that every once in awhile I write on the topic.

    And I do mean every once in awhile. Of the 30 Garrison Center op-eds I’ve written (and the 32 I’ve published) since January 31st, a grand total of ONE — this one — has dealt with the topic of whether or not a particular politician is a libertarian. So call it 3%, plus or minus a fraction of a percent, of my op-ed output. Hardly “all my time.”

    People who read my opinion on this subject (and some will — I’ve already heard from one newspaper that they’ll be running the piece) may agree with it, or they may not. My toes will continue tapping either way.

  13. Dave

    I really go back and forth on Rand. I don’t think there’s any reason anyone in the Libertarian party should hold much special affection for him. But the neocons really hate him. The people behind the swift boat campaign against Kerry are already planning to do the same to him, and prominent Israel supporters like Adelson have vowed to spend whatever it takes to stop Rand.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/hawks-will-hit-rand-paul-in-1-million-tv-blitz-116721.html?hp=b2_c2

    Now the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, and I think Libertarians should be mindful of that. I can really see both sides. On one hand, if Rand gets elected in the face of such strident opposition, he will have a freer hand than most Republicans to go after a few sacred cows. But on the other, Rand first got elected without any assistance from the establishment, including McConnell. Then he turns around a few years later and endorses McConnell, even against a opponent who was arguably more in line with his views. Then McConnell endorses him for president. It shows he’s a pragmatist, willing to cut deals that personally benefit him. Smart politically, but Libertarians and libertarians looking for an uncompromising crusader won’t find it in Rand. I have little doubt that if he became president against all odds, he’d reach an accommodation with the hawks. Maybe he’d not be Tom Cotton levels of aggressive, but I don’t think we’d see much in the way of slashing the military budget or less troops overseas.

    Personally I find Randel intriguing. I don’t think he’s either the antichrist figure some do or the stealth undercover Libertarian others find him. I think he has some original ideas and would be an “interesting” Republican nominee and president. But above all else, he would still be a Republican.

    Last point, since my bloviating has gone on for quite some time. In terms of Libertarians I see Rand’s candidacy as more of an opportunity. I don’t think he has a shot at the nomination, not really. I’d say it would be Jeb, Walker, Cruz wayyyy in third, Graham in forth. So what happens to his fans when he drops out? Some like Paulie have argued that with Rand campaigning strongly for the GOP candidate most of Rand’s fans would stay in the party and would vote Repub. I respectfully disagree. I’d like to offer anecdotal evidence.Look at this poll from RP forums,a place which surprisingly or not has a fair minority of Rand skeptics:

    http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthread.php?471076-If-Rand-is-not-the-nominee-would-you-vote-for-Hillary

    The poll shows that most posters would vote for either the Libertarian nominee or stay home if Rand loses. Now this is a small sample size, but I think it should be encouraging to LPers. I think the discontented “Rand fan” will be a natural constituency for the LP once he drops out. It’s the one reason I’ve advised going scorched earth against Paul. Sure he’ll endorse the repub, but I honestly don’t believe his endorsement will have much weight with his small l supporters, especially if it’s someone like Bush.

    If I were the LP nominee, I’d wait until he dropped out and put out a video of Rand’s most libertarian remarks, especially ones that the LP agrees with. End it with “Want real Liberty? Try its party.” and a smiling picture of the candidate.Done right, I think it could attract some of his support and even get media notice.

    Forgive the length. I probably put entirely too much effort into this, heh.

  14. langa

    There has to be a threshold for what constitutes libertarianism, or else the concept has no value. Someone who wants to cut the size of government by 5% (not as an intermediate step, but as their ultimate goal) is not a libertarian. Neither is someone, like Rand Paul, who takes (watered down) libertarian positions on perhaps half the issues, if that.

    To put it simply, there’s a difference between a big tent, and an infinite tent.

  15. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    It has hardly become sport to “bash” Rand. His unique position as the son of someone who has helped our party, and the fact that he is libertarian in views sometimes, but sometimes not at all, makes this a fair topic to discuss.

    I’m sure now we’ll hear about the myth of “purity police” (I keep hearing about them, but have yet to meet one), but I’ve already hit a “whatever” attitude with this.

  16. Thomas L. Knapp

    Scott,

    A side note on the RLC’s “Liberty Index” —

    The problem with such indices is in their construction.

    Why does the “Liberty Index” routinely show Republicans as “more libertarian” than Democrats? Because it is specifically constructed to do so.

    The Liberty Index rates US Representatives and US Senators based on how they voted on a small subset of legislation — all of it Republican-authored and Republican-sponsored. As such, it will necessarily be skewed by party-line voting and by the absence of any libertarian-leaning legislation authored/sponsored by Democrats. At MOST, it might show which Republicans are more libertarian-leaning than other Republicans, with Democrats pretty much automatically excluded from the running. But even then … well, one year the Liberty Index ranked Rick Santorum not just as a “Libertarian” (the Index has break points for different descriptors), but as the most libertarian US Senator. This was shortly before the public interview in which he first openly attacked libertarianism as evil and un-American and described himself as its opposite.

    I pulled a similar trick about 10 years ago, constructing my own “index” to “prove” that all of Missouri’s Democrats (including Dick Gephardt) in the US House were “more libertarian” than any of its Republicans. My little index was slightly less skewed than the RLC’s. But not much.

  17. paulie

    Dave, those poll numbers are before Rand Paul and his attack team spend several months carpet bombing everyone who is on his lists or in groups where his supporters go that this election is too important, voting LP will elect the Democrats, blah blah blah.

  18. Trent Hill

    Tom,

    I didn’t think you’d be losing sleep. Question is, are you qualified to be saying who is or is not libertarian? I’d argue “No”. Strongly. But hey, no skin off my back.

  19. Michael H. Wilson

    Scott the LNC could help on this issue by doing more in the way of public relations. It is up to the LP to speak up and tell our story. If we don’t no one else will. So far the PR has been poor.

  20. George Phillies

    One might suggest that the word “liberty” in “liberty” index is some kind of opposite of Libertarian. An index that puts Paul and Cruz next to each other is odd.

  21. Michael H. Wilson

    Just to be a bit clear. It is my opinion that the LNC has been doing a poor job at PR for the last 10 or more years. And this is not a comment on Wes or Nick.

  22. Robert Capozzi

    L: There has to be a threshold for what constitutes libertarianism, or else the concept has no value. Someone who wants to cut the size of government by 5% (not as an intermediate step, but as their ultimate goal) is not a libertarian.

    me: Yes, if that works for you, establish YOUR “threshold.” Problem is: Others may have different thresholds.

    5% sounds like a great and ambitious start to me. Accomplishing that in the next 20 years or so sounds like a monumental task, given the current trajectory, so in my case that sounds about as “ultimate” as I can get, since I’ll likely be dead by then!

  23. Seymour_Results

    I agree: There’s a difference between a “big tent” and an “infinite tent.” However, there’s also a difference between “big fish in a small pond” and some fish bones in a dried up mud-puddle.

    …But not much.

  24. Seymour_Results

    A good idea I’ve heard: Hold the LNC meetings on Skype. Spend the money saved on viable State Legislative candidates.

    A bad idea I’ve heard: Continue with zero concept of strategic viability, with the “purity of philosophy” as the only qualification for a candidate to run. Continue to confuse the goal of anarchism with the goal of libertarianism. They can be loosely-related, but they are not the same.

    For those who have “head up ass” syndrome (and thus cannot tell the difference between two differing concepts of any kind), remedial reading of F. A. Hayek is highly recommended.

    That is all.

  25. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Yes, if that works for you, establish YOUR ‘threshold.’ Problem is: Others may have different thresholds.”

    Why is that a problem?

    There’s nothing at all stopping you, or Trent Hill, or Scott Lieberman, or anyone else, from writing an op-ed and submitting it to 1,500 or so American newspapers.

    Or at least nothing other than internal roadblocks of your own devising, e.g. lack of desire to do so, deep-set feelings of un-qualifiedness, etc.

  26. Joshua Katz

    It seems to me to be a fair request that candidates who are not, by any definition, libertarians, do two things:
    1. Run on a line other than Libertarian
    2. If asked, say “I am not a L(l)ibertarian.”
    Rand has done both of those things, so I feel no need to criticize him. The media paints him as a libertarian for their own reasons. First, many are genuinely ignorant and think that libertarianism is a variant of conservatism, leading them to write sentences that contain phrases like “his libertarian, socially conservative brand” (saw that somewhere in an article about Ron Paul.) Second, liberals are beginning to turn to libertarianism, so it is useful to paint a conservative as a libertarian and stop that from happening. Third, and probably most common – it creates a more dramatic story in the primaries and hence sells news. “Will the GOP turn libertarian?” is an actual question, as opposed to “which of these slightly comic figures will be nominated?”

    As a Libertarian, the first 2 things are all the information I really need. I don’t want a Republican President. (Personally, I don’t want a President, but I’m not going to tie that to being a Libertarian persay.) Now, putting on my libertarian hat – supposing I had a President, and that President were Republican – which of the comic figures seeking the nomination would be marginally better? That’s debatable, but it’s not absurd, in my opinion, to think it’s Paul. It’s also not absurd to think that there’s no answer since they’d all be roughly equally bad for freedom.

    Do I think we’ll lose support to Rand? Yes, I do. There will be those who think he’s less bad, and that working for the less bad choice is a good idea. (I personally fail to understand why this crowd so consistently and reliably limits its search for less-bad options to Republicans, but that’s another story.) I also think they’ll come back, or come to us for the first time, after Rand loses (if he does) if we message ourselves correctly while he’s running. They could also stay in Republican-land if we message badly.

    Seymour above: I agree with your assessment of the bad option. I disagree with your assessment of the good idea. I do not think a board can work together cohesively without meeting in person, which gives time for informal chats, and forces people to own up to things they’ve said in between. We could meet less often, and do more business via teleconference, which I’d agree with, but I disagree with eliminating meetings.

  27. paulie

    Rand Paul is tied for 4th place as the most libertarian US Senator in 2013 on this chart: http://rlc.org/sites/default/files/LibertyIndex2013.pdf

    Yikes! He’s even worse than I thought. Tied with Ted Goldman Sachs Cruz? For shame!

    I would have thought he would at least be ranked by the RLC as the most libertarian Senator, which is kind of like having the Knight of Columbus vote on the most ethical Cosa Nostra family business.

  28. paulie

    Focusing huge amounts of money, time, and emotional energy on Presidential campaigns has gotten the Libertarian Party exactly nowhere. OTOH, we have elected perhaps a thousand or so Libertarians to local offices. Many of them can point to actual legislative victories that they have achieved that would not have been possible had they not been elected to public office.

    Many of those local elected Libertarians, people who asked them to run, people who worked on their campaigns, etc., came into the LP and/or got actively involved in politics as a result of LP prez campaigns.

  29. paulie

    It’s kind of odd to insist that Rand Paul is libertarian when everyone from the man himself to LPKY to LP national says he is not. He wants to increase military spending, endorsed Romney (pre-nomination!) and campaigned for Cuccinelli, etc, etc, etc…. I’d have an easier time believing that former Goldwater girl Hillary Clinton is a “stealth libertarian.” Rand Paul is more like the stereotypical preacher’s son. His campaign manager’s last gig was playing every dirty trick in the book plus some new ones to knock the LP off the ballot in Illinois. He wants to keep Guantanamo open and use drones to apprehend common criminals. He went after journalists for daring to ask him questions he didn’t like and did more to suppress the LP and independent vote than anyone else last year. He wants war with Iran. He’s buddies with McConnell. It goes on and on.

  30. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    I’m very curious as to whether his niece’s husband Jesse Benton will go to work for Rand. I believe he’s still out of work.

    There’s a nice picture floating around Facebook of Ron and Carol at the event where Rand announced today. I can see Jesse Benton with his little girl in the background. I believe they still live in Kentucky.

  31. NewFederalist

    I hope Rand Paul doesn’t load up his campaign team with family members like Ron Paul did.

  32. Dave

    I believe Benton is heading up a pro Rand PAC, but not involved with the official campaign.

  33. Joshua Katz

    Recent articles on Paul have included comments from Benton but identified him as a family member who worked on Ron’s campaign.

  34. Gene Berkman

    The RLC index is clearly skewed to make Republicans seem more pro-freedom than they are, and to make Democrats seem less pro-freedom than they are. Nonetheless, Rand Paul has undertaken a number of initiatives, in regard to the NSA, ending federal interference with medical marijuana, and in other areas that show he is concerned with freedom far more than other Republicans. Interestingly, MSNBC this morning had a segment on the issue of how “libertarian is Rand Paul, and it correctly contrasted his views on abortion, same-sex marriage and marijuana with the views held by libertarians. That is more publicity for libertarianism than is normal on MSNBC, so the announcement at least has been a benefit for us. And the most positive thing to benefit Rand Paul’s campaign today is Justin Raimondo withdrawing his support.

  35. Thomas L. Knapp

    “it correctly contrasted his views this week on abortion, same-sex marriage and marijuana with the views held consistently by libertarians.”

    There, fixed that for ya.

  36. Robert Capozzi

    tk: Why is that a problem? There’s nothing at all stopping you, or Trent Hill, or Scott Lieberman, or anyone else, from writing an op-ed and submitting it to 1,500 or so American newspapers.

    me: It’s not a problem, per se. L can urge others to adopt his rather rigid threshold, but I personally urge others to take a broader, more flexible stance when it comes to discerning who’s on the team and who is not.

    RP2 is clearly not on the team, since he himself says he’s not L. I would say he’s L-leaning, though, and on many issues he IS on the same team as I am. I might even vote for him if the Ls field an extremist L or NOTA. It so happens that when I vote, I’ve only voted for an L, so this would be a break in my practice.

    I disagree with him on more issues than I did GJ, BB, RP, or EC, but on balance I do think his intent is to bend the curve in an asymptotic anarchistic direction, or at least to slow down the rate of expansion of unnecessary government..

    Thanks for the reminder of my first amendment rights. Have I given you the impression that I don’t know them?

  37. Nicholas Sarwark

    I’ve received at least three inquiries for interviews that are related to the announcement by the junior Senator from Kentucky, so there are at least some reporters interested in what actual Libertarians think.

  38. Thomas L. Knapp

    Nick,

    That’s great! It’s nice to have a chair that handles himself well in media interviews (not always a strength among past chairs).

    So far I’ve heard from one newspaper that’s going to publish this article in the next few days, and from another paper (a major newspaper in a key presidential nomination battleground state) that they’ll be excerpting from it tomorrow.

  39. Mark Axinn

    On the issue of major media interviews and what to say to the mainstream press when they call and ask you about Senator Paul, I offer the following which is now up on Newsday.com and will be in tomorrow’s paper (the print version may be slightly different from web):

    As Rand Paul announces his candidacy, defining a libertarian
    By Daniel Janison
    Newsday Political Reporter

    Sen. Rand Paul’s newly announced candidacy for president prompts the slippery question of how to define a libertarian.

    Talkers toss the word around in discussions of where this first-termer from Kentucky may find support and of how he measures up on issues against his father, Ron Paul, the former congressman who once ran for president as the Libertarian Party candidate and later in GOP primaries.

    Liberty is supposed to be a founding ideology of the republic. So on some level, Americans are all presumed to be libertarians.

    In Washington and news-media jargon, however, the word is often used to describe a faction of the right. Insiders often view self-proclaimed libertarians as seeking, recklessly or naively, to erase modern government institutions, overseas interventions and business regulations.

    Mark Axinn, chairman of the Libertarian Party of New York, casts a different light on the label.

    In New York City, he said, the party has had success attracting citizens’ signatures on qualifying petitions by stating opposition to random police stop-and-frisk practices. “That’s a different manifestation than (overseas) bombing, but also a manifestation of government run amok,” he said. The party also has done well gathering signatures in places such as Coney Island by touting support for legalizing marijuana, Axinn said.

    Lefty-liberal libertarianism, (say that three times fast!), if such a term is valid, seems to occupy a different spatial dimension from Paul’s pronouncement in Louisville Tuesday that the Cold War saw “the engine of capitalism finally winning out against the sputtering, incompetent engine of socialism.”

    On abortion rights and same-sex marriage, opponents and backers alike constantly strive to portray themselves as on the stronger libertarian ground.

    Given all that, you may well come up short when asking who the libertarians are.
    Michael McDermott, the Suffolk Libertarian Party chairman, who ran for governor on the line last year, slams two-party, left-right labels that “box us into a particular mindset.”
    “We believe in individual liberty — to do what you want as long as you don’t interfere with the rights of others. And we believe in the Constitution,” said McDermott, a Huntington resident.

    State Libertarian chairman Axinn said: “If the Republican Party was made up of all Rand Pauls, I’d be delighted to talk to the Republican Party. But at the end of the day, he’s a Republican. And while he’s taken some good positions — for example, on NSA spying and the collection of metadata — he’s also supported foreign interventions and global world-building.”

    But in trying to win Republican primary voters, Paul must walk tightropes. On drone usage, he recently said he only protests their use in “a targeted killing ordered against a U.S. citizen on American soil.”

    Axinn, of course, plans to support the Libertarian candidate, who last time was Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico.

    Paul used the word “liberty” eight times in Tuesday’s announcement, “freedom” nine.
    In 2013 Paul was quoted as saying, “I’m not a libertarian. I’m a libertarian Republican. I’m a constitutional conservative.” In 2010 he told Time magazine of rivals: “They thought all along that they could call me a libertarian and hang that label around my neck like an albatross, but I’m not a libertarian.”

  40. Andy

    Part of whether or not Rand Paul is a libertarian depends on what criteria you use.

    Has he ever been a member of the Libertarian Party? Not to my knowledge (it would be interesting to comb through old LP membership records to see if he ever has been a member), but he did work on his father’s campaign for President in 1988 when his father was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for President.

    Where do Rand Paul’s views fall on the Nolan Chart? I think that if you analyzed where Rand actually stands on all of the issues, that his views would indeed fall in the Libertarian Quadrant of the chart. He may not be at the top of the diamond, and he may not be as high on the chart as his father, but he is still in the Libertarian Quadrant.

    Does Rand call himself a libertarian? Looking at the quotes above, it looks like he does sometimes, although he differentiates himself with a lot of libertarians by calling himself a libertarian Republican.

  41. Rebel Alliance

    Mr Knapp,

    Excellent essay. It will receive some press on our LPMN social media page, both to sow some seeds of doubt about Rand, and also to help us gauge his support level and help us determine how to move forward with him in the spotlight.

  42. Thomas L. Knapp

    Thanks, RA! Nice input in that article, Mark!

    When the Des Moines Register emailed me yesterday to tell me they’d be “excerpting” this piece, I figured they would be using one sentence of it in some kind of “reactions to Rand Paul’s announcement” roundup. Which was kind of exciting.

    But not as exciting as them running it minus just a a couple of paragraphs as an op-ed:

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/2015/04/07/please-stop-calling-rand-paul-libertarian/25444071/

    Pow. Right in the straw poll / caucus nads.

  43. George Phillies

    Where does Congressman Paul fall? Antiabortionist. Opposes equality before the law in marriage and adoption. Says he is not a Libertarian, so either is not a Libertarian, or believes in using fraud to deceive conservatives into voting for him. States Rights supporter.. Seens not to be very libertarian, depending on the time of day.

  44. Robert Capozzi

    gp: SIgned letter to Iranians saying we would use fraud in our nuclear agreement with them.

    me: I didn’t support that letter, either, but tell us more about why you believe it’s a call to “use fraud.”

  45. Sam Osborne

    Me thinks that Paul were to gain the Republican presidential nomination that many a Libertarian would like Juliet quickly recognize Paul as the true love Romero and in words Shakespeare set loose from her mouth soon start declaring unrequited love:

    ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
    Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
    What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
    Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
    Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
    What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet;
    So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
    Retain that dear perfection which he owes
    Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
    And for that name which is no part of thee
    Take all myself.

    And you’ve got a libertarian’s devoted vote.

  46. Thomas L. Knapp

    Sam you may be right.

    Sometimes I think that
    The libertarian is of a free and open nature,
    That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
    And will as tenderly be led by the nose
    As asses are.

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